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Elysian Viaduct

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The Elysian Viaduct seems to be one of the victims of the "anti-elevated structures" group, but it does bypass railroad crossings (still two, but originally the Katy and two whole yards) but its greatest shortfall is the fact that it lacks any sort of non-vehicular option, as pedestrian/bicycle access wasn't a high priority in the mid 1950s. A good "replacement" of the Viaduct would be expensive and probably destroy more buildings than it saved (assuming Hardy Toll Road wouldn't be built). I could see widening McKee Street, but that still leaves the railroad without enough space for an underpass or overpass, then adding four stoplights at McKee and Hardy for traffic that wasn't there before, then adding two new underpasses, cutting off access to Lyons and Conti, widening Hardy after McKee rejoins it near Brooks and Burnett, then changing where Elysian splits into Elysian and Hardy to where Hardy splits to join Elysian. 

 

The Elysian Viaduct was fun to drive on (and listen to David Bowie's "Space Oddity" at the same time), but what it really needs is a bit of TLC and a parallel bridge for pedestrian and bicycle use.

Edited by IronTiger
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The Elysian Viaduct seems to be one of the victims of the "anti-elevated structures" group, but it does bypass railroad crossings (still two, but originally the Katy and two whole yards) but its greatest shortfall is the fact that it lacks any sort of non-vehicular option, as pedestrian/bicycle access wasn't a high priority in the mid 1950s. A good "replacement" of the Viaduct would be expensive and probably destroy more buildings than it saved (assuming Hardy Toll Road wouldn't be built). I could see widening McKee Street, but that still leaves the railroad without enough space for an underpass or overpass, then adding four stoplights at McKee and Hardy for traffic that wasn't there before, then adding two new underpasses, cutting off access to Lyons and Conti, widening Hardy after McKee rejoins it near Brooks and Burnett, then changing where Elysian splits into Elysian and Hardy to where Hardy splits to join Elysian. 

 

The Elysian Viaduct was fun to drive on (and listen to David Bowie's "Space Oddity" at the same time), but what it really needs is a bit of TLC and a parallel bridge for pedestrian and bicycle use.

 

Yea, kinda wish they don't replace this.

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You just have to remember.  As distasteful as you may find some structures, they do serve a bit of a role in how Houston, a major transportation hub of commerce, operates.

 

What would make sense is to build a smaller viaduct to allow for pedestrian or bicycle traffic.  It would be the cost and usage that would be the downfall of whether or not this project would be viable.

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Commission Calatrava to design a world class bridge on the east side. It would make the defining statement for Houston as the bayou city. The views from I-10, 59 and the new 45 if it happens would be stunning. It would be the jewel in the Hardy toll road link into downtown. 

Then save the old viaduct for our hike and bike trail into downtown. It's a historic structure. It could be our Highline type of structure and think of the great sightlines. Its much wider than the Highline so I think they could develop some nice recreation areas, decks, rest areas and gardens, using water  from Buffalo Bayou to irrigate landscaping. Maybe use solar panels to run pumps for retrieving the water. Plenty of room for Bicycles and runners, with room to spare.

The trail could start right around Discovery Green and go past Minute Maid and over Buffalo Bayou into the warehouse district on the other side which is becoming a developed area called Hardy Yards. St. Arnolds and many old warehouses could be developed as watering holes and restaurants. There are many artists studios in this area also.  

Thats what I'd do!

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Wow, I had the same thought on the bus this morning!

 

The Calatrava bridge, that is.

Edited by htownboy

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While I think a Calatrava Bridge would appear that we are trying to keep up with Dallas, I do like the idea of a repurposing the Viaduct into a park/pedestrian link.  Could really revive the area.  Great idea.  I do agree that a showcase bridge of some sort would be awesome.  Maybe there is another architect who could be commissioned to something just as good, but less expensive.  Hate to appear that we want one, just because Dallas has one (or is it two now?).   

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I understand that that would be the perception, and actually Dallas will eventually have three, but many other cities have his bridges.

There are other architectural engineers that have designed bridges but his stand out and with just one and since the location is so incredible with Houston as the backdrop perhaps he could be inspired to do something far more attractive.

As for the viaduct, I think this would be a great way to connect the other side of Buffalo Bayou to downtown, while repurposing a structure that just happens to have a great view of downtown. We already know it will hold lots of runners since thats the old route of the marathon, and it would be a great alternative to Memorial park for Eado and the new communities growing around minute maid and Discovery Green. It would also enhance the Hardy yards warehouse district as a destination. Walk across the bridge have a drink

or a meal and then stroll back.

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Bobruss - I do love the idea of a grand connector for the various neighborhoods.

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Are they extending the Hardy toll-road to downtown?  Or just rebuilding the elevated section where the viaduct is now?

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On 3/31/2017 at 9:17 AM, cspwal said:

Are they extending the Hardy toll-road to downtown?  Or just rebuilding the elevated section where the viaduct is now?

Both things are happening. The Hardy extension will connect to the new Elysian Viaduct as seen in these schematics. http://www.ih45northandmore.com/docs5/20160428_NHHIP_Seg3_Project_Updates.pdf

TxDOT anticipates the viaduct will be complete in 32 months, or Dec 2019. (Source: http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/get-involved/about/hearings-meetings/houston/030917.html)

 

According to the Hardy Toll Road Connector site, the Hardy ramps to the Elysian Viaduct will start construction in July 2019 and finish in June 2021. The HTR mainlane extension to downtown will start in May 2019 and end in August 2022. The overpass at Collingsworth began construction last year. The overpasses at Lorraine and Quitman will begin this year and next year respectively.

Source: http://www.hardyconnector.org/schedule.html

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The viaduct looks too thin to support the machines when you see it from 59 - looks like they'll demolish it just from their weight

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Wonder if the Hardy toll road extension will stimulate commercial activity at the NE quadrant of the CBD?  Access to the Bush Intercontinental should be  much faster in this area.

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It would be a good spot for any hotel brands that haven't opened a downtown location - they could advertise "get to a bed sooner, and get to the meeting sooner"

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Wonder if the Hardy toll road extension will stimulate commercial activity at the NE quadrant of the CBD?  Access to the Bush Intercontinental should be  much faster in this area.

 

There are several empty lots on Crawford and Jackson north of the ballpark. Any business here would have some of the  fastest access to the airport of any downtown location. Can't imagine the Hardy jamming up like I-45 or I-69.

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Correct it will jam up in new and interesting ways, just like Westpark

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Looks to me like they just ruined another perfectly good roadway structure, all in the name of tax dollars.

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2 hours ago, Blade Runner said:

Looks to me like they just ruined another perfectly good roadway structure, all in the name of tax dollars.

Not really. The viaduct was narrow, had no shoulders or sidewalks to safely pull over, and was near the end of its useful life. It was an excellent place to drive really fast, though, at least for a short distance.

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I don't think that span over I-10 could take another change in the placement of the support columns. 

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12 hours ago, Blade Runner said:

Looks to me like they just ruined another perfectly good roadway structure, all in the name of tax dollars.

I'm glad I was able to drive on it, but @Ross is correct. It was outmoded. The lanes were narrow, and there was no shoulder or barely much of a median. I wouldn't be surprised if the Elysian Viaduct was "structurally deficient" or whatever. The thing is, traffic patterns have changed that much since it was built. It looks like Hardy Toll Road traffic (which came many decades after Elysian) mostly shifts over to I-45 at the terminus, not go south through sketchy neighborhoods and several stoplights, and the "all roads to feed to downtown" structure isn't as useful for Houston as it is for older cities farther north. The vast railroads it went over (two yards and the MKT) are reduced to just two tracks today. It was also built when less thought was given to pedestrian access as it is today: there are no sidewalks on it and I'm pretty sure it forbids bicycles.

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That was probably THE best way to get out of downtown and to the Hardy to boogie on up to the airport during afternoon rush hour...

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Had no clue they were adding this major intersection to the project. This is at the tail end of the viaduct in downtown. Instead of flying over McKee and Runnels St., it will now all intersect. This is from the Hardy Connector detailed map:

 

https://hctra.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=4d5420dc068346609fb5898bf0e4698a

 

Viaduct.JPG

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I ride my bike down Runnels to the bike path and noticed some concrete work being done (curbs removed) on Runnels and wondered what they were up to.....this answers that questions...nice find !!

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